It might seem like an unusual alliance, but leaders on both sides of the abortion debate are teaming up behind a common cause: more regulations on oil and gas drilling in Pennsylvania.
“Pro-life is not a matter of just worrying about an unborn child, or about ending pregnancy, it’s about caring for life from the moment of conception until natural death,” said the Rev. Mitch Hescox with the Evangelical Environmental Network.
Hescox, who’s based in York County and is launching a Pro-Life Clean Energy Campaign in the state, joined several Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, members of Moms Clean Air Force and state Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky at Our Lady of Angels Convent in Aston to outline their objectives.
They criticized a recent House vote to block updates to rules aimed at cutting air pollution from oil and gas operations.
“We are living in a very toxic community, a community and a state that allows communities to be exposed to to wells, compression stations, pipelines, distribution stations, methane leaks and other greenhouse gas emissions,” said Sister Nora Nash.
Gretchen Dahlkemper with Moms Clean Air Force pointed to the potentially harmful impacts of oil and gas drilling on pregnant women and kids.
“They are ignoring our children and putting the rights of industry first,” she said, pointing to some research that has found links between premature births and exposure to gas drilling.
The state Department of Environmental Protection has been working on updating regulations for several years. A state commission recently approved them, but this week, a state House Energy Committee voted to block it.
State Rep. John Maher, who chairs the committee, said he has had trouble getting the Wolf administration to listen to his concerns about the proposal. He said they include everything from correcting typos in the text of the regulations to questions about the legality of DEP’s procedure.
But Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware, a member of the panel, voiced disappointment, describing the regulations as “common sense” rules that have been through years of an extensive public review and a comment process by the state.
“We need to stop playing politics with people’s health,” she said.